"So well assorted were they that once there they fell into harmony like the strings of an instrument touched by an able hand." August 6, 2007 10:00 PM   Subscribe

This thread is a shining example of how a humble single link blog post can bring out the best in Metafilter. Some of the comments in that thread are among the most candid and moving I have every read, especially those by bookish, wendell, uh126, and swerve. But there are many other insightful, poignant, and informative comments as well. In general, the discussion has progressed with a dignity and class that have become a hallmark of Metafilter. To all those who commented, thank you for sharing your lives with us. And thanks, 2shay, for the post.
posted by Pastabagel to Etiquette/Policy at 10:00 PM (62 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, thanks Pastabagel. I would have missed the thread, and it's beautiful.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:48 PM on August 6, 2007

Me 3 - my thanks to Pastabagel.
posted by Lynsey at 11:25 PM on August 6, 2007

Good call, Pastabagel. That thread is terrible and beautiful.
posted by carsonb at 11:35 PM on August 6, 2007

I do feel uncomfortable being lumped in among the 'best' comments in that remarkable thread (which also featured great personal insights from jokeefe [part two] and several others, as well as nickyskye's better-than-Wikipedic posting [and more after that]). I have never favorited more comments in a single thread. But my own words were more self-affirmation than illumination; I have tales to tell about the 'borderline' part of my life, but I really can't do that right now.

And a special note to symbioid: this was totally the opposite of "GYOFB" material; I assume that's the response you were expecting from the MeFi snarks. But the closest to that we got was anotherpanacea's well-reasoned challenge to the BPD blogger.

This was the Best of MetaFilter. pastabagel, I am flattered you thought I helped it to end well.
posted by wendell at 11:41 PM on August 6, 2007

Wow. Pastabagel, that link made me cry. I'm amazed at the courage individual MeFi users have in posting their own stories of BPD (in themselves or those they love.) And I was really, really glad to see an absence of snarky comments.
posted by Happydaz at 11:43 PM on August 6, 2007

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:47 PM on August 6, 2007

posted by blacklite at 12:13 AM on August 7, 2007

That's a wonderful thread. I'm having to deal with my father's group of mental and emotional issues at the moment, and have been for the last 5 years or so (so, since I was 11 or 12) and probably will for the rest of my life. Because he's never bad enough that I can give up. My dad doesn't have BPD, at least as far as I know, but reading that thread makes me realize that other people have crazy parents and that maybe, eventually, things will be OK. Even if he's never better. I can be OK.
posted by MadamM at 12:17 AM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think part of what made that thread so amazing was the AskMe-like quality it had: the sharing and insight typical of a good question were there in spades, but there was also room for people to criticize motives and tack on their own curiosities. Just strangers on the internet, proving themselves to be human and real and deeply felt, three-dimensional beings rather than cardboard invective and clever wordplay.

What makes personality disorders so emotional, in addition to the wide swatch such figures cut through our lives, is the gratitude that strikes when you realize how much worse your problems could be if you had one of these yourself. Think about it: arrogance, anxiety, alienation, or attention-seeking magnified a hundred times until that was all anyone ever noticed about you and the lens through which you experienced every moment of the day. And instead, you just occasionally worry too much, or feel a little lonely every once in a while, or catch yourself feeling a bit big for your britches... a blessing, in comparison.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:19 AM on August 7, 2007 [4 favorites]

Shine on, you crazy diamonds.
posted by Abiezer at 12:20 AM on August 7, 2007

Unbelievable thread. Bravo to all the contributers.
posted by boubelium at 12:55 AM on August 7, 2007

Thanks for pointing this thread out to me. It explains the behaviour of someone I knew years back. Never quite understood the full meaning of 'I'm diagnosed bi-polar" until now. Powerful stuff.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:32 AM on August 7, 2007

Never quite understood the full meaning of 'I'm diagnosed bi-polar"

Bipolar and Borderline Personality are two different things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:35 AM on August 7, 2007

Ach, that was a brainfart on my part, meant to write Borderline Personality. Apologies.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:15 AM on August 7, 2007

I suspect slimepuppy has multiple personalities, each with a different disorder. Now that sounds cool.
posted by wendell at 4:22 AM on August 7, 2007

The one unifying thread of the personalities is not-thinking-enoughness.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:40 AM on August 7, 2007

multiple personalities

Actually the correct term is Dissociative Identity.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:46 AM on August 7, 2007

And I intentionally didn't use the correct term because I did not wish my comment to be taken seriously.
posted by wendell at 5:04 AM on August 7, 2007

This isn't meant as a slam against the link itself, but this is a great example of why, yes Virginia, it sometimes is about the comments. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, PastaBagel, and thanks to everyone who contributed.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:07 AM on August 7, 2007

posted by AwkwardPause at 6:01 AM on August 7, 2007

I actually posted an askme thread anonymously about BP earlier this year and I'm incredibly glad I took the advice and got the hell away from that person as quickly as possible. I literally broke it off with her 40 minutes after posting the question, just because of the intensity of the responses.
posted by empath at 6:40 AM on August 7, 2007

There should be a 'fan' category in the 'Contacts' section -- otherwise I'm going to have to start admitting that I've got a crush on TheStraightener.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:51 AM on August 7, 2007

I suspect slimepuppy has multiple personalities, each with a different disorder. Now that sounds cool.

Also, there was comic book character who had 64 personalities, with a different superpower. It was Crazy Jane of Doom Patrol
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:06 AM on August 7, 2007

Since the sidebar presumably doesn't have BPD, how about adding some quotes to that sidebar comment excerpt?
posted by smackfu at 8:03 AM on August 7, 2007

[Jessamyn - sorry, I didn't investigate this thread before posting . It wasn't obvious what this was, so I skimmed over it. Mea culpa.]

I tense up when we get a BPD thread. Yes, there's often great content, but the comments tend to have a repeated "I'm so glad I got away before the relationship killed me" trend.

While I doubt they are meant to, these comments simultaneously stab BPD suffers through the heart, and convince them that they are correct in their beliefs that they are worthless people.

Maybe I'm lucky and my experiences with BPD sufferers have been easy. Maybe I'm an emotional hardnut. Maybe I'm mentally ill myself. But I've loved those I've known. They can be hard to live with at times, but the rewards are just the same as any other relationship. Seeing a ffp here and knowing the pain that's going to follow is one of the hardest things I've known.

I'd like to challenge the people here to find any other group of people that get discussed in such a way and which triggers such a "run away" mentality, such as empath mentions a few comments above. I can think of no other group of people with either mental or physical problems that get treated this way.

I'm not trying to say "I don't like this so we won't talk about it", but that we always seem to cover the same things.

Maybe I'm just being selfish...
posted by twine42 at 8:17 AM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

I can only imagine how hard it must be for someone with BPD or someone who loves them to read such terrifying warnings. And yet, the accounts have the unmistakable ring of experience paid for in flesh and blood.

twine42, I don't think people are just perpetuating a stereotype, or jerking at the knee, or being callous. Hard as it is for you to read about, surely these experiences were harder for these folks to live through.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:25 AM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, and this:

"I've changed! I'm fixed now!" is the BPD's constant refrain.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:16 PM on August 6

is eponysterical.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:26 AM on August 7, 2007

I'd like to challenge the people here to find any other group of people that get discussed in such a way and which triggers such a "run away" mentality, such as empath mentions a few comments above. I can think of no other group of people with either mental or physical problems that get treated this way.

Emotionally and physically abusive family members always receive this treatment on Metafilter. BPD simply adds a diagnostic dimension to a set of behaviors many people have encountered and been traumatized by.

As has been detailed elsewhere, this brand of "Your criticism of my instability and abuse is itself abusive" is a standard line for BPDs.... It fails to distinguish orders of magnitude, as evidenced by katillathehun's comment:
My mom? Once tried to strangle me after I left a cereal bowl sitting on her desk. No joke. She wasn't normally a physically abusive person, but she had been getting gradually worse with her freakouts. That one left bruises. She apologized sincerely and seemed thoroughly shocked that she had gone that far.

...and then told me that the physical pain I felt was the equivalent of how I made her feel (emotionally) on a regular basis.
The notion that discussing our experiences is somehow traumatizing for the people who have hurt us is typical BPD thinking. It's worrying to me that you've taken it on yourself to protect your suffering partner or friend from descriptions of abuse that they would, apparently, find hitting too close to home.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:28 AM on August 7, 2007 [4 favorites]

anotherpanacea - I'm not a BPD sufferer. I'm someone who happens to know and love people who are and who knows how much this hurts them. I'm just the selfish kind of bastard who'd rather help the person than ditch them and then tell the world how nasty they were.
posted by twine42 at 8:33 AM on August 7, 2007

Guys, you know what? Can you all forget I posted to the grey on this matter. I know I'm in the minority. I know I'm annoyed right now and saying things that won't help.
posted by twine42 at 8:50 AM on August 7, 2007

No, that thread is an example of people wanking in public over people wanking in public. And I should know.
posted by davy at 8:51 AM on August 7, 2007

You're not helping them, by hanging around, you're just prolonging their problems.
posted by empath at 8:53 AM on August 7, 2007

I'm someone who happens to know and love people who are and who knows how much this hurts them.

Yet you don't seem to know (or care) how much it hurts to be on the receiving end of BPD behavior. Like the example of the mother who tried to strangle her child over the cereal bowl on the desk, and then said that the physical pain of the child being strangled was the equivalent of the mom's emotional pain caused by the child... do you, indeed, feel that the mother is the victim in that case, or the child? And do you, indeed, believe that it's oppressing the mother to suggest that the child should be protected from the mother who has tried to strangle them?
posted by scody at 8:54 AM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm just the selfish kind of bastard who'd rather help the person than ditch them and then tell the world how nasty they were.

Whoa. That's not the impression I've gotten from the comments in the blue. Have we read the same thread? The stories there all seem to be a variation of "After years of loving and trying to help my ___, I finally realized that I couldn't, and my sanity rested on my need to break off the relationship." And I've not seen anyone say that people with BPD are nasty or assholes or bad people - but rather that they suffer from a condition that requires expert, clinical care, which most family members/spouses are not equipped to give, either professionally or emotionally.
posted by rtha at 8:57 AM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Guys, you know what? Can you all forget I posted to the grey on this matter. I know I'm in the minority. I know I'm annoyed right now and saying things that won't help.
posted by twine42 at 11:50 AM on August 7

I actually wondered about this myself when I wrote this post here in meTa. You'll notice one of the comments I mentioned is the one by uh126, in which he/she describes a very bad experience with someone with BPD (assuming that the person actually had BPD and not something else but thought they had BPD). It struck me because the way it was written made it easy to imagine yourself in that position - how does the well person deal with the sick person if the well person doesn't understand the sickness?

I'm no psychiatrist (but I notice one showed up in the thread) but I sort of wonder if most of these disorders are some defect in the ability to see yourself as others see you. The ability to empathize.

I think these comments are useful, maybe not beneficial, but useful, because it demonstrates the issue from a variety of angles. Someone with BPD will read that comment and at least have information that their behavior may be affecting others, and that those people may be reacting to them far differently than they previously imagined. It might upset them, but anything is upsetting to someone.

More importantly, someone who has just begun a relationship with a person with a disorder may realize that, and it may give them insight into their relationship or their life.

I think your criticism is a fine one, but I also think if everyone is being honest and respectful, more comments from a diversity of perspectives are better than fewer.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:04 AM on August 7, 2007

"You're not helping them, by hanging around, you're just prolonging their problems."

I agree, you were right to kill her.
posted by davy at 9:19 AM on August 7, 2007

I actually posted an askme thread anonymously about BP earlier this year

Too bad it was anyonymous. It would have been eponysterical.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:43 AM on August 7, 2007

So how many personalities does a schizophrenic have?
posted by davy at 9:59 AM on August 7, 2007

Unfortunately, mistreating other people is part of the DSM-IV definition of BPD. It's not like people on that thread are being intentionally cruel to BPD sufferers by noting that their behavior towards other people is not good: that's a major part of what BPD is.

A complicating factor is that there are people who have been given a BPD diagnosis and do not fit the DSM-IV description. There are also people who have a "minor case," seek help, and get better.

I do feel for BPD people who have to read "get out right now, this person is irreparably damaged" advice when BPD comes up. I believe that this advice would be exaggerated if the situation was just "I know someone diagnosed with BPD" because as I said above, a diagnosis isn't necessarily accurate, and some people who do have BPD traits are much less extreme than others.

However, for a person who has all the DSM-IV traits in extremity - violent rage, unpredictable swings of love and hatred in personal relationships - why wouldn't non-BPD people want to take steps to protect themselves from being exposed to this abusive person?

If BPD were called "Extreme and Unpredictable Rage For No Reason Disorder" would people who didn't have it be urged to have understanding and patience forever with the people who abuse us? Or would the advice be to protect ourselves first, rather than taking care of our abusers above ourselves?
posted by lemuria at 10:00 AM on August 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

Just the one. People mix up schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder (I think formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) pretty frequently, but they're very different animals.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:40 AM on August 7, 2007

Yeah, twine is completely full of shit. There is no reason to put up with BPD behavior no matter if it is an "illness" or just total chronic douchbaggery.
posted by Riemann at 11:15 AM on August 7, 2007

Thank you. I would have never read the blue thread without this grey thread.
posted by spec80 at 11:40 AM on August 7, 2007

I'd like to challenge the people here to find any other group of people that get discussed in such a way and which triggers such a "run away" mentality, such as empath mentions a few comments above. I can think of no other group of people with either mental or physical problems that get treated this way.

Try fat people or overtly religious people and god help you if you're a Scientologist. No offense, Twine, but that was a lame call out, the internet has no seatbelts or safety rails, use at your own risk. Free discussion means, if not requires, that some peoples feelings are going to get bruised in discussions of certain topics. Also, in the case of BPD, it looks like there are two victims: those who have and those who are close to them. Both sides deserve air time and need help.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:34 PM on August 7, 2007

Late to the party but chiming in- amazing, insightful, thoughtful and brutally honest comments. As someone already observed, the responses far exceeded the quality of the FPP.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:08 PM on August 7, 2007

I'm just the selfish kind of bastard who'd rather help the person than ditch them and then tell the world how nasty they were.

As I'm one of the people who wrote about my experience with a friend with BPD, may I just point out that the length of time between the beginning of our friendship and the point when I stopped taking or responding to her phone calls (collect from Australia!) was almost thirty years. We met in our mid-teens; we were both over forty when I finally detached for good. There were of course gaps in between, some of several years' duration. But if there were anything attention, love, thousands of hours of listening, giving her money, babysitting, helping her move, intervening with boyfriends, advising, and etcetera could have done to help I think there might have been some evidence of that over those nearly three decades.

Thanks for all who noted my posts... I just wish I didn't know so much whereof I speak. I also wish that I'd had the resources to know what I was dealing with much earlier; to have given it a name. And I genuinely hope my friend is doing better, or at least doing okay.

Also, swerve's contribution in the thread broke my heart.
posted by jokeefe at 2:15 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thank you for words about my comment.

That thread has been very incredibly enlightening for me - not just the discussion of the psychological aspects of the syndrome, but reading the experiences of others as well. It is uncanny how similar they are to my own.

And in posting my own situation, I hoped only to enlighten others. I don't want to use Metafilter as group therapy, nor do I want to say that everyone who suffers from this syndrome is a terrible person. I just wanted to give more examples of what types of things a person with BPD is capable of doing. Plus there is something very therapeutic about typing it out anonymously on such a thoughtful website.

As I said in my other post, learning about BPD was an epiphany. It completely changed my feelings about the relationship. All of a sudden this person's behavior made...well not sense necessarily...but I realized that it was not my fault, not my problem, and that it could never be fixed. And that continuing to sacrifice my health, my sanity, my money, and my time, was worthless.

I just hope that my words might provide such an epiphany to someone else.

I am still dealing with this person. Although they have been served with the Protection Order they showed up twice at a concert last night where they knew I'd be. Luckily they were not allowed in, but it didn't make for a very enjoyable evening.
posted by uh126 at 2:22 PM on August 7, 2007


Tragically, the following note is not included on the MetaTalk subsite. However, you'll notice that beneath the comment input field on MeFi (random thread) it reads like this:
note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.
Good advice.
posted by carsonb at 3:53 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

There's a reason that note's not on MetaTalk, you slimy cuntspit assworm.
posted by Gunner's Mate 1st Class Phillip Asshole at 4:05 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by carsonb at 4:29 PM on August 7, 2007

Well played, carsonb.

davy and riemann (and Gunner's Mate, but at least that one was funny), I wonder why you are choosing this particular moment to act like assholes. Is it some kind of unconscious compensatory reaction to the high quality of discourse we've been having around here?

If so, please go have it someplace else. People are talking about painful and important personal experiences here, and you are lowering the tone.
posted by ottereroticist at 4:46 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I was gonna reply to davy in the main thread, but thought "don't feed the troll", and I was actually coming to MeTa to post about it, but saw this first.

I'm not big on comment deletion, but in a thread like this, where there's lots of good community building and emotional support, it seems odd to not have deletion.

RE: Twine42's issues with these posts
"Maybe I'm an emotional hardnut. Maybe I'm mentally ill myself." --

If you're continually drawn to people with BPD and similar issues, I'd imagine this indicates a sort of co-dependent behavior, in which case, yes, you are mentally ill. That said, we all have our quirks.

And honestly, hey, if you can handle it, and support them that's great. But I would take a look at myself to make sure I wasn't engaging in self-destructive behavior first or hurting those I'm trying to help in the first place.

But for most of us, (even my mother, who truly does have such a compassionate soul and who does have to deal with my sister's issues day in and out), we do get burnt out, and to ignore this is not helping anyone.

Unfortunately, we see that this is a painful thing. Just because we advise distancing oneself from BPD people, or at least to make sure you have safeguards and know when to say "no", it doesn't make it hurt any less. Especially if it's someone you love, and you KNOW that they can't help it, it's hard.

This is the most connected I've felt to the MeFi community, and I have to admit, I like it! :D
posted by symbioid at 5:58 PM on August 7, 2007

That thread is a welcome revelation. I think I finally have a term to describe my mother's behavior.

I was 35 years old before I "escaped" from her toxicity (I finally broke off contact with her when she started manipulating my children). There were so many abusive aspects to her personality, but I couldn't ever put my finger on what, exactly, was going on. Thank you for this MetaTalk post because I would have missed the original thread otherwise.
posted by amyms at 5:59 PM on August 7, 2007

The thread is great, but painful. For me, anyway.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:44 PM on August 7, 2007

This thread, and the one in the blue, are extraordinary. I can't thank everyone enough for sharing your stories and your expertise. Best of the Web indeed.
posted by rtha at 6:55 PM on August 7, 2007

I'm very nervous about describing any of the incident that happened between me and my dad in December. It was horribly traumatic for me, a sort of explosive moment of accumulated awfulness that had built up over years. He wasn't physically abusive when I was a child, though it seemed like there was always the threat of it. And I responded to that when we argued in December. He started making physical gestures, which mightily pissed me off, and then he eventually pushed me, and I fell backwards over a coffee table which was behind me. I reacted physically, and I can't really describe it here, even though it's not actually that bad, because I am ashamed of it. But I was so angry. After growing up with his abuse, getting distance from him and working out my own problems and, mostly, making sure that I just didn't have to deal with his crap anymore—well, to be confronted with it, again, in such an extreme way...well, I was very angry. I thought that I had walked away from having to deal with this crap, having my sense of self linked to his irrational chain of anger.

Ahem. As you can see, a lot of issues were, and are, involved for me, and although I talk about everything else here on MeFi, this is something I've not talked about before now. And, as I say in the blue, it's especially weird and confusing because I have been thinking the last two weeks about calling him—I'd immediately decided to not go indefinitely without talking to him again because I just don't think he's got many years left to live. But I feel like I can only call if I can make myself believe that I'm over what happened in December. Or, perhaps, my whole childhood.

I just like to move on from things, that's the only thing a person can do. I've learned to do it, I expect it of myself now. But reading that thread stirred up a lot of emotions in me, it makes me feel like I've not moved on as much as I would like.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:14 PM on August 7, 2007

Thanks for pointing this (exceptional) thread out.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 8:28 PM on August 7, 2007

There are 256 possible combinations of symptoms of BPD. So don't try to shoehorn us into one box. Thanks Matthewr!

And my "I'm fixed now" is not a refrain... I truly am better, thanks to therapy. I no longer meet any of the diagnostic criteria.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:01 PM on August 7, 2007

IndigoRain, that point definitely is important.

There are commonalities of possible traits, but there's also individual personality quirks that go along with these symptoms.

So even though the people we're talking about (or the people we are in some cases, like yours) all have BPD, I know that reading these things, while making me go "Wow! Yes, I know exactly how that is!" isn't the same for all, due to my sisters lack of violence.

So when I read those stories, I really am saddened even more, because to deal with the emotional ride along with physical abuse is that much tougher.

And I see hope for people who are able to recognize their issues and work on them (as I think I may have mentioned in the blue, like my sister, who does at least listen to criticism and tried to change her behavior and her ways of thinking, even if they are small changes at first... For instance, she'll often say, while talking to me "My mom" (my, being hers, of course), totally ignoring the fact, that, in fact, yes we did pop out of the same vagina, and there is a pronoun for sharing a thing in common called "ours"). I pointed that out, and for the rest of our time visiting, she made sure to refer to "our mother". And in fact, made a conscious effort to do so, catching herself saying "my" and then correcting it.

So there is hope, at least, in our case... But it's so very difficult, and it's hard to know how to give support. I definitely think I'm going to read some of the books and share them with my parents (my mom, especially being the "crutch" for my sister).

Thanks for sharing that difficult story, EB. I don't know what to say, but offer my heartfelt sympathies.
posted by symbioid at 9:17 PM on August 7, 2007

What symbioid said as well, EB.

Perhaps there's a comfort in some of the readers here seeing their own situations, and perhaps being able to take some steps to change and improve them. And I wish our members with BPD all the best: being there is hell. And from my confused and anguished (and self-medicated) early twenties I have some personal knowledge of the borderlands. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
posted by jokeefe at 9:37 PM on August 7, 2007

One of the most amazing metafilter threads I've read... I have emailed the url to a couple of people who will probably find a great deal of enlightenment, relief, and perhaps a strange sort of comfort in what they find there.

Thank you, so much, to those who participated.
posted by taz at 8:20 AM on August 8, 2007

Thanks for highlighting the thread. Amazing articulate and knowledgeable responses - a real high point. nickyskye, thank you in particular.
posted by paduasoy at 12:07 PM on August 8, 2007

aww thanks paduasoy. That's kind of you to say. :)

I felt very anxious discussing psych stuff here, having tried to post about related issues before. It wasn't received that well, especially when I made my hyena emotions comment in five fresh fish's psychopath thread. ouch.

2shay must be pleased and surprised, it's his fifth post and it got a great response.

There are more women sharing in Metafilter these days than before and I think that brings increased permission to discuss emotions and personal anecdotes, to express kindness. In my experience of MetaFilter, which I like in part for its rough and tumble atmosphere, it also brings a healthier balance.

EtherealB, please consider reading, I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression by Terrence Real. I think you might like it.
posted by nickyskye at 6:43 PM on August 8, 2007

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